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motoring in france

Claremont, Australia
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motoring in france

we are planning a motoring trip through france next year for 3/4 weeks..we are Australian where we drive on the left hand side of the road...Question1..does it take long to adjust to driving on the right hand side and is it dangerous to get used to?

Question2 ..I notice most hire cars are manual transmission...I am used to automatic...is that a problem to get used to..or is everyone driving manuals these days in Europe?

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: motoring in france

1. Driving on the right is terrifying for the first hour or so, then gradually becomes easier.

2. I drive a manual in Australia, so I have no trouble with a manual in Europe. Because of the price of petrol, not many people in Europe drive an automatic.

There are some hints on driving in France at www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/FrenchDrive.htm

Newcastle, Australia
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2. Re: motoring in france

Hi there

Agree with Nick, once you get used to it is fine. We drive mauals as well but we have been able to secure an automatic without issue - (I know some have said that they haven't) but we didn't want the hassle of thinking about changing gears, driving on the "wrong" side etc.

KInd Regards

Merran

Terrigal, Australia
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3. Re: motoring in france

Hi,

If you are considering driving in France for 3/4 weeks - do yourself a favour and explore leasing a car.

Easily done here in Oz - and must be done here; check out:-

www.renaulteurodrive.com.au/

www.globalcars.com.au or www.europeshoppe.com.au/

There are many advantages of leasing over pure hiring a car, we have successfully leased on two previous occasions (manuals) - and now you can lease automatics - we have a Peugeot 308, automatic - with GPS - leased for a month for around AUD$2k for October this year.

I normally drive a manual, wife drives auto - as other's have correctly pointed out it takes a little while to adjust to "the wrong side of the road " - for me 2-3 days, and we thought that having an auto on this occasion (alighting from 22 hours in the air and navigating our way to first night's stop) would be just one - less thing to worry about.

Have a great trip !

Newcastle, Australia
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4. Re: motoring in france

Hi there

I would never consider driving ANYWHERE after 22 hours in the air -how selfish for others on the road- even if you have a nights's stopover eg Singapore which is still approx 13.5 hours plus time wasted at airport once you get to destination. But securing an auto for as stated reasons is important for my needs when driving on European roads.

Kind Regards

Merran

Sydney, Australia
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25,105 posts
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5. Re: motoring in france

Whether you drive after the flight depends more than a bit on how well you travel. I couldn't possibly do it as I don't sleep at all on planes. Nick, however, sleeps and awakes as fresh as a daisy and can easily drive as far as somewhere like Giverny out of Paris.

I wouldn't recommend it if you have never flown to Europe before. Stay somewhere close and drive the next day.

Bedoin, France
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6. Re: motoring in france

"Nick, however, sleeps and awakes as fresh as a daisy"

Oh how I wish I could experience this luxury !

Newcastle, Australia
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7. Re: motoring in france

HI there

As some doctors now suggest which is totally off topic but I think important - but lack of sleep in drivers is the equilvalent of a .1 drink driving reading - rent the car that meets your expectationas by all needs but

I, as the OP should be well aware, do not drive on any road especially foreign, that given, any road foreign or not, with all the added expectations - not to mention unexpected fatigue. Fatigue -which as we are all well aware does creep up on us sometimes most unexpectedly - regardless of "daisy" feeling freshness.

Kind Regards

Merran

Finland
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8. Re: motoring in france

Some pieces of advice:

1) find some info by googling "driving in france" + have a look at useful links such as www.viamichelin.com and www.asf.fr (links you to other motorway sites also)

2) make sure you have a GPS and "Michelin Atlas Routier" map book

3) spend the first day & night at a hotel recovering from the flight. Do not drive LHD for the first time, jet lag.

4) do rent a car with an automatic gearbox, reserve well before, at Paris they have plenty of them either at major rentals or the "minileasing" companies

5) as you drive long distance and you keep the car for a long time, I suggest a mid sized car or a mid sized minivan; should not cost you more than some 1.500 - 2.000 EUR for the 4 weeks. I strongly recommend an automatic gearbox. Try to avoid a "BMP" gearbox (automatized manual = really bad), used in Peugeot and Citroen especially.

I think you should not try to exceed some 400 kilometers by day, on any day. I note you Aussies are hungry after mileage...

Europeans still prefer manuals, one reason is the small engines, which do not play so well with an automatic. Automatics and DSGs (a double clutch system) are getting more usual, though, as the diesel engines offer a lot of torque. The extra price for an automatic gearbox in a new car is some 1.000 ... 3.000 euros, which explains the situation also.

Essex
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9. Re: motoring in france

Although this site is predominantly info on driving in Europe for UK residents, (possibly taking their own RHD car with them) there is lots of useful information here that I'm sure will help you. Obviously your hire firm/lease firm should supply the necessary car documents, insurance, breathalysers etc, but hopefully the rest of the info will help you:

…drive-alive.co.uk/driving-in-france.htm

Takapuna, New...
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10. Re: motoring in france

I'm a bit like Nick in that I sleep well on a plane. Getting a night flight out of Singapore or Hong Kong, I will get a good 7 hours sleep, with the aid of ear plugs, sleep mask and hoodie. I am my usual self when I arrive early morning in Europe and don't have a problem driving for a couple of hours. However, for the day of arrival and the next couple of days I will tire in the afternoon, so make a point of driving only in the morning for these days.

I drive an auto at home and have done so for at least the past 15 years, but don't have a problem sitting on the wrong side of the car with a manual. Once you try to change gears with the door handle a couple of times, you come right. I think a manual is really only a problem if you've only ever driven an auto.

I confirm FinlandTimo's comments re the BMP/MCP dual clutch gearbox. I had one in Europe a couple of years back and apart from the excruciating pauses as it changed gear, it had a tendency to stall when driven slowly on a steep slope - like driving out of an underground carpark, or inching forward in traffic to an intersection at the top of a slope.

When you switch sides of the road, the first couple of days you do need to be careful, but I think the important thing is to stay calm, take your time, use the side mirrors to check your position on the road. You will probably start by being a bit over to the right of where you should be and may clip the occasional right hand corner.

Get a diesel if you can. The cost of running it will be about half of an equivalent petrol car. Diesel is a little bit cheaper, but the fuel economy in a diesel is far better.